CVJ CSA

disclaimer:  CVJ is a new name in in-ears with a couple of models currently available.   I was approached and asked if I would be interested in reviewing both the CSA and the CSN models and agreed to do so.   The CSA arrived first so it is the subject of this review.   I have no financial interest in CSA or any of its sales outlets, nor have I been compensated beyond the item itself for this review.   If you have an interest purchasing CVJ products, they are now available on Amazon and several Aliexpress stores.  

 

Unboxing / Packaging:

The box is a bit different than most budget packing as it is bookfold and very sturdy.  it is pressed wood similar to MDF or fiberboard and the sides are roughly 1/8th inch thick giving it more structural integrity than the average cardboard.  The top of the box has the CVJ logo and motto but no model indication.  Details are on the bottom with a stick on label for the model and company details printed directly on the box.  For that reason, I expect the CSN to share packaging details with the CSA which is wise in the budget segment.   Opening the book reveals a foam tray with the earpieces and the large and small tips (the mediums come pre-installed).   The cable, cable tie, and cloth carry bag are hidden under the tray and complete the kit.  So the sum of the kit is earpieces, 3 sets of silicone tips, cable, cable tie, and cloth carry bag along with presentation box.  Not too bad at all for a budget oriented offering.

 

Build/Fit:

Build is solid plastic as one might expect at this price point and while it isn’t as glamorous as some more expensive options, it is well fitted and without slop between faceplate and shell.  The faceplate is opaque and somewhere between arctic camo and carbon fiber in design while the inner shell is clear plastic making easy to see the internals.  My understanding it is suppose to mimic carbon fiber but the pattern is a bit too large and not quite sharp enough and comes out looking a bit like winter camo as a result.   Shape is the now common semi-custom reverse teardrop with the nozzle built in to the inner shell rather than being a metal addition.  Nozzles do have a pronounced lip for tip retention and a very prominent forward rake with a very slight upward tilt.   .75mm bi-pin connections are slightly recessed into the housing which I like.  It isn’t enough to prevent use of after-market cables, but is enough to give a little protection to the junction.

 

Internals:

The CSA uses a 1omm dual coil dynamic driver for the lower frequencies and a single balanced armature for high frequencies.  Nominal impedance is listed as 22Ω with a sensitivity of 101 dB/mw ±3.  I found the CSA to pair well with phones or tablets and scale some qualitatively but very little quantitatively with more potent sources.  It is really designed for use with lower powered sources and performs well in that role.

 

Cable:

The provided cable starts with a 3.5 straight barrel jack with a 4 wire double twist exiting after a short strain relief.  The splitter is a matching black barrel with two wire twists exiting above it.  No chin slider is provided and the northern ends terminate with pre-formed earhooks and .75mm bi-pin connectors in black plastic housings. Housings are marked L and R at the junction with the earhook on the outer face of the connector.   A cable tie is provided for storage and the cable isn’t particularly tangle prone and is pliable enough to avoid microphonics.   The cable is good quality and at least as good as what is typically seen in the budget market.

 

Sound:

Bass:

Bass is mildly elevated with a center around 80Hz and roll-off becoming evident only in the mid-twenty hz range.  Sub-bass has good rumble and fairly articulate.  Attack is slightly faster than decay leaving a bit of warmth to the signature with neither attack or decay being exceptionally quick.  Speed is good, but not class defying.    Mid-bass continues the trend with reasonably good detail levels and just a small amount of bleed into the mids.      While the graph would give the impression that the bass was the star of the show, it really balances nicely with the upper-mids and lower treble and keeps the bass from dominating the signature.

 

Mids:

Lower mids have a very slight recess but are not dramatically over-shadowed by the mid-bass and while the bass bleed does color the lower mids a bit, it gives a little more fullness and warmth to the same.  As you go up, mids do climb forward with a plateau of the upper mids and lower treble reaching 2kHz through about 5kHz.   While the push forward does give vocals good presence, it can on occasion become a bit fatiguing and a slight tweak with the EQ may be preferred.

 

Treble:

The lower treble follows the upper mid push and is a bit too elevated for me at times.  Those who like a bright signature will likely enjoy the CSA, while those who are a bit treble shy will want to a pply a bit of judicious EQ around this region to tame it.   Treble drops back a bit above the early boost and prevents it from getting overly bright before another push brings some top end air.  Roll-off is in the 13kHz range which leaves the CSA feeling open and well-extended.   Snare rattle is good, but high-hat can have a metallic click to it due to the tuning here.

 

Soundstage / Imaging:

Stage is a bit wider than deep as is common.  It does have reasonably good depth but definitely feels a little asymmetrical.   Seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward with a few places where instruments sound more side by side than front to rear due to the stage shape.  Instrument separation is about average for the class which does help keep things from getting too congested but layering is only average and some compression is evident as tracks get busier.   Imaging is good with movements easily tracked and positioning in space being fairly tightly defined.

 

Thoughts / Conclusion:

The CSA is not your average budget model, and I have to credit CVJ for that.  It takes a different approach than most and while it does have a bit of a V signature it shows better balance than many and a tuning that I hope we will see more of in future models as they refine their craft.   For my ear, the top end is slightly brighter than I prefer, but others may find that energy a plus as it does bring some life to the signature and gives the CSA a more open feel to it.   Overall, the CSA is a welcome change of pace from the steady stream of big V signatures with solid mids and is well worth a listen.   My understanding is that CVJ was an OEM for others before branding their own products for retail sales and the tuning here shows a maturity that suggests they’ve had a good bit of previous experience.

CVJ CSA

5.7

Packaging

6.0/10

Build Quality

5.0/10

Accessories

5.5/10

Sound Quality

6.3/10
  • 6/10
    Bass - 6/10
  • 6.5/10
    Mids - 6.5/10
  • 6/10
    Treble - 6/10
  • 6.5/10
    Soundstage - 6.5/10
  • 6.5/10
    Imaging - 6.5/10

Summary

Pros:  mature tuning with better balance that most budget V, good kit

Cons:  all plastic construction,  can be a bit fatiguing